National 18.8.2016 10:39 am

Meningitis cases may escalate in summer

Picture: Thinkstock

Picture: Thinkstock

People need to be more cautious as the summer season drew closer.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says cases of meningitis are expected to increase this coming summer.

According to WHO, 1 146 people in 19 African countries were killed by the virus in 2014, Rekord East reported.

Professor Lucille Blumberg, of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), said it was important for people to get tested for meningitis.

“There are two different kinds of meningitis: viral meningitis is not serious but can cause prolonged fever and seizures; bacterial meningitis is rare and needs to be given immediate attention, as it can cause brain damage.”

Blumberg said people needed to be more cautious as the summer season drew closer.

“Although meningitis can occur at any time of the year, the number of viral meningitis cases increase during the summer months.”

Blumberg said Tshwane residents needed to be careful, as there had been an outbreak of the disease in the city before.

“An outbreak occurred in Tshwane from October 2010 to February 2011, caused predominantly by echovirus 4.”

While the disease can infect anyone, babies are most at risk.

“Children under five are most at risk, especially those under one-year-old,” said Blumberg.

“Teenagers and young adults are the second group most at risk.”

He said there were a few symptoms to look for.

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 “The virus can be passed on through coughing and sneezing and close contact.”

“A person who has meningitis may also start vomiting, suffer from headaches and diarrhoea, sleep for longer hours, develop a rash and lose appetite.”

If someone suspects they have meningitis, they should contact their doctor as soon as possible.

This after Ettienne de Villiers, a 19-year-old Garsfontein teenager and Northwest University, died of viral meningitis, his family confirmed.

– Caxton News Service

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